On the day after November 9th a titanic struggle within the GOP will begin…

It’s the first thing you notice. A physical manifestation of what you’ve come to understand on an intellectual level. When you walk into the Republican National Convention, as I did earlier this year, you’re met with a sea of faces. White faces.

Like a statue of old in some great city, the GOP has stood stoically, unchanging in the face of rapid transformation unfolding around it.

The demographic shifts in the United States have been profound, changing, in a very literal sense, the face of the great Republic. But like a statue, the Republican Party has remained monochromatic.

Consider this reflection from David Wasserman at FiveThirtyEight:

“In 1980, Ronald Reagan won 56 percent of all white voters and won election in a 44-state landslide. In 2012, GOP nominee Mitt Romney carried 59 percent of all white voters yet lost decisively.

What happened? African-Americans, Latinos, Asians and other non-whites — all overwhelmingly Democratic-leaning groups — rose from 12 percent of voters in 1980 to 28 percent in 2012.”

And this trend is only going in one direction. For example, the Latino population in the United States, which stood at 3.5 percent of the total population in 1960 and 17.3 percent in 2014, is projected by the Pew Research Center to grow to 28.6 percent by 2060.

To put that into sharp relief, a full half of the United States’ current population growth is Latino. For a party so beholden to white voters (and particularly less educated white voters) this should be a cause for concern. And it is.

An Inflection Point

Back in 2012 after Mitt Romney was defeated by Barack Obama the GOP did something too few political parties do after a loss; they asked why and sought to identify lessons that could address those failures and weaknesses that lead to defeat.

That effort produced an incredible report that provided a roadmap for the GOP to face and win over America as it is now.

If Hispanic Americans hear that the GOP doesn’t want them in the United States, they won’t pay attention to our next sentence. It doesn’t matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think that we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.

In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our Party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door.”

Amongst the many recommendations in the report, one in particular, encapsulates the broad thrust:

“If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them and show our sincerity.”

And so, less than four years later, the Republican Party nominated Donald Trump.

Much has been written about Trump’s racist rhetoric, identity politics and singular focus on appealing to a subset of white Americans whose notion a great America is one in which they are the majority and where one could leave high school and walk into a job for life at the local factory.

But rather than retread a well-worn path let’s cut to the end of the movie and note simply that Trump’s nomination is the clearest possible indication that although the GOP may be able to draw lessons from the shifting form of the American electorate it is, at least for the moment, incapable of applying them.

The End of the GOP?

No. And you shouldn’t take seriously anyone who tells you it is. Like Mark Twain, rumors of the GOP’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, despite the tightening in the polls, the Democrats are likely to retain the White House this year.

And there’s a good chance they’ll take back the Senate too. But the GOP will still most likely retain the House. And in the event they do lose one or both, the smart money in 2018 would see the GOP get back what they lost.

At the state level the GOP’s position is even stronger, with 31 governorships to the Democrat’s 18 and 31 state legislatures to the Democrat’s 11 (eight are split). That’s a position that is unlikely to weaken meaningfully in the foreseeable future.

The White House is a different story. Without substantial change, and a willingness to stop pandering to the base instincts of less educated white Americans, the White House will remain out of reach.

As Cesar Martinez, a Republican strategist who helped George W. Bush engage with Latino voters in 2000 and 2004, and who worked on the Jeb Bush campaign this year, said recently, “the GOP has to ask itself whether it wants to really compete for the White House.

Because if it doesn’t start taking seriously the need to engage with minority  voters, it will be relegated to a party of local, state and congressional elections only. As an example, you can’t win the White House without 40 + of the Latino vote.”

Come Out Swingin’

The country is changing. The question is whether the better angels in the GOP, and there are many of them, are able to win the battle for the heart and soul of the party, to take advantage of the inflection point Trump has created. Let’s not forget, it wasn’t so long ago that a certain

Let’s not forget, it wasn’t so long ago that a certain George W. Bush won 44% of the Latino vote.

And so, on November 9th a titanic struggle will begin. On one side, Republicans who see the world as it is. On the other, Republicans who wish for a world we should all be grateful no longer exists. Who will win?

It depends how much the party as a whole wants to hold the White House ever again.

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  • notimetoshine

    The Republican party has acted in a truly bizarre fashion during this electoral cycle. The presidency was theirs to win; after eight years of Obama and a truly toxic democratic candidate in Clinton, any half competent candidate could have done very well. And then they ended up with Trump. One has to wonder what was going on at the RNC. Someone wasn’t doing their job thats for sure.

  • Lex.Butler

    The assumption here is that Trump will lose. Looks less likely by the hour. The same mindset that resulted in Brexit may carry him to the Oval office. GOP will then be paralysed as it has a winner it can’t undermine as he still speaks their language. The other GOP candidates were equally obnoxious – so much for soul searching. Mind you the Democrats are no better if Clinton is the best they can field.

  • terence patrick hewett

    The US got rid of the King and replaced the monarchy with the Clintons, the Bushes, the Kennedy’s and the Corleones: what’s not to like? I believe in America.

  • eamoncorbett

    In order to win Trump would have to carry every swing state , in order to do that Hillary would have to be tried ,convicted and sentenced all within the next seven days.

  • eamoncorbett

    It’s not as simple as that , it’s about electing delegates from the electoral college in States that could go either way , as the article suggests there are not enough GOP supporters in these swing states and if trends continue there will be less in the future . Their only hope is if the Dems put forward a howler of a candidate next time and the Republican nominee has half a brain .

  • 05OCT68

    “is the dream alive that don’t come true or it something worse” Springsteen writing about the lost white working class in the 80’s. If you listen to the River, he could have written it yesterday. Their jobs, taken away by multinationals relocating them (not Latino’s) are somehow going to be returned by a profit motivated billionaire. Does “Making America great again” hark back to the 1950’s Eisenhower era of greater social mobility, executive salaries around 10 times the shop floor worker instead of a multiple in the hundreds and the higher rate of income tax at 90%. If thats what the Donald means I’d vote for him.

  • mickfealty

    This is both entertaining and informative on this very subject: https://t.co/xQCLPf1MGA. A shift of 3/4 points and it could go to Trump.

    Same problem as Brexit as you say. All the graduates are coming out for Clinton (Republicans amongst them), and Latinos. But is there enough of them?

    And will black voters follow Hillary in anything like the numbers they did for Obama?

    The numbers are running firmly against the poor white working class, but if they are p!ssed enough to vote in bigger numbers than ever before…

    Who knows?

  • JAMES MCGIBBON

    It is elected governments and local authorities vying for work that allows the multi nationals to exist, dictate and threaten. The Scottish government led by Mr Salmond could maybe some day enlighten the people on their dealings with Trump. One day they were pals the next day it went sour.

  • 05OCT68

    Like Arlene complaining about the IDA talking down the NI economy while Stormont wants to cut corporation tax to match Irelands! It’s dog eat dog when it comes to FDI, unfortunately NI will lose as the collection of corporate tax will be monitored from London where as the Revenue Commission in Ireland may/can accept a lower rate. I would argue that FDI either side of the border benefits the island as a whole, pre Brexit anyway while we can travel freely to work. Back to Trump It’s us that are stealing American jobs.

  • 05OCT68

    If “Making America great again” is as powerful as “Taking our country back” then I’m afraid!

  • 05OCT68

    The poor white working class have convicted her already.

  • wild turkey

    Shane

    Ever see Mississippi Burnin? who hasn’t
    With respect. if i did not know better, from reading your blog, i would have thought Comber and Neshoba County were intimately twinned. some would say culturally they are. we will save that for another time.

    at this time it is suffice to say your argument re the noble intentions of the GOP and your citation of Reagan are, at best, disingenuous and mistaken. Whether they are deliberately misleading , well…..

    Reagan opened his 1980 presidential campaign at the Neshoba County Fair. Any suggestion that the Gipper didn’t know exactly what message he was telegraphing in Neshoba County in 1980 is woefully wrong-headed. Wishful thinking would be the kindest way to characterize it. Others might characterize it as dysfunctional denial or casual racism.

    The campaign debuted at the Neshoba County Fair in front of a white and, at times, raucous crowd of perhaps 10,000, chanting: “We want Reagan! We want Reagan!”

    Reagan was the first presidential candidate ever to appear at the fair, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he told that crowd, “I believe in states’ rights.”

    Reagan apologists have every right to be ashamed of that appearance by their hero, but they have no right to change the meaning of it, which was unmistakable. Commentators have been trying of late to put this appearance by Reagan into a racially benign context.

    That won’t wash. Reagan may have been blessed with a Hollywood smile and an avuncular delivery, but he was elbow deep in the same old race-baiting Southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon.

    Everybody watching the 1980 campaign knew what Reagan was signaling at the fair. Whites and blacks, Democrats and Republicans — they all knew. The news media knew. The race haters and the people appalled by racial hatred knew. And Reagan knew.

    He was tapping out the code. It was understood that when politicians started chirping about “states’ rights” to white people in places like Neshoba County they were saying that when it comes down to you and the blacks, we’re with you.

    And Reagan meant it. He was opposed to the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was the same year that Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney were slaughtered. As president, he actually tried to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He opposed a national holiday for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He tried to get rid of the federal ban on tax exemptions for private schools that practiced racial discrimination. And in 1988, he vetoed a bill to expand the reach of federal civil rights legislation.

    Congress overrode the veto.

    Reagan also vetoed the imposition of sanctions on the apartheid regime in South Africa. Congress overrode that veto, too.

    Throughout his career, Reagan was wrong, insensitive and mean-spirited on civil rights and other issues important to black people. There is no way for the scribes of today to clean up that dismal record.

    To see Reagan’s appearance at the Neshoba County Fair in its proper context, it has to be placed between the murders of the civil rights workers that preceded it and the acknowledgment by the Republican strategist Lee Atwater that the use of code words like “states’ rights” in place of blatantly bigoted rhetoric was crucial to the success of the G.O.P.’s Southern strategy. That acknowledgment came in the very first year of the Reagan presidency.

    Ronald Reagan was an absolute master at the use of symbolism. It was one of the primary keys to his political success.

    And Shane, perhaps your career as an entrepreneur and publisher, is informed by Reagan’s shining example. eh? Let’s hope not,

  • 05OCT68

    If Romney lost with a greater percentage of the white vote than Reagan what’s left for Trump? Instead of saying the election is rigged perhaps he should have had a policy to change the electoral collage.

  • Shane Greer

    With respect, on a re-reading of my piece you’ll see that the reference to Reagan was only to highlight the demographic shifts that the US has undergone and is undergoing.

  • lizmcneill

    I I don’t think he’s winning a popular vote either.

  • Obelisk

    The GOP’s strength is at once formidable and a mirage.

    Why do they retain the House? Is it because of the appeal of their policies or the ability of their representatives?

    No, it is because the Republicans have used their control of state legislatures to conduct gerrymandering on a scale that would make the Unionist governments of old blush. They openly boast of their computerised systems that can gerrymander almost to the street, corralling likely Democratic voters into as few districts as possible while increasing their own numbers.

    And why do they control most of the legislatures states? Because America has a huge, great swathe of low populated, low diversity states who are more open to the GOP’s message. Sure, huge sections of the American population are and will be be from minority backgrounds but they are concentrated in urbanised areas that are pitifully under-represented at the Federal level.

    The state of Wyoming, with under six hundred thousand people (under half of the north of Ireland!), has the same clout in the Senate as California with thirty eight million.

    Republican strength is real, but massively over-represented. Their gerrymandering means that the only real challenge to a sitting Republican is another, more extreme Republican which means they are almost all involved in an endless flight with right. Every Republican running in a safe ‘red’ district has their own version of Ian Paisely ready to cry ‘lundy’ at anything they do that smells of compromise, of accomodation with the America as it will be and not of shoring up America as it was.

    So the Presidency, itself elected by the antiquated electoral college that turns what should be a slam dunk for the Democrats into a seven special state popularity contest, becomes a bulwark against the insanity of the Republican party, a party who will use is legislative control to wage war and stop anything they don’t like and who will crow about a meaningless mandate. Hillary will get nothing done if she wins. But she’ll be able to stop the Republicans making things too much worse.

    The Republicans are guaranteed control of the legislature by virtue of their gerrymandering in the House. In the Senate, the fact that there are far more low population red states than high population blue states will doubtless lead to them having a lock there too in the near future.

    My conclusion?

    The entire American system is rotten, propped up by their common desire to fetishize a constitution in serious need of update and venerating the opinions of men dead two centuries. At some point, the democratic deficit at the heart of American politics is going to come to a head. Hopefully when it does, they design themselves a better state.

  • 05OCT68

    Perhaps we need the electoral college system for the regions re:Brexit, the referendum would have been a tie.

  • chrisjones2

    If Trump wins it will be hell

    If he loses Hilary will be in for Trench Warfare as they seek impeachment and cripple her

    The worst case will be Trump wins on popular vote but loses on the electoral college. At that point it may be open warfare

  • wild turkey

    Shane

    i did… & i will meet you 1/2 the way. I would question any reliance on ‘the better angels’ within the current GOP. Those better angels have been in decline since the party repudiated the Lincoln legacy… and i doubt if many, perhaps any, in the GOP hierarchy today would be motivated to extend charity to all and malice towards none.

  • mickfealty

    Both big parties do it though, surely? What’s the Chicago machine after all? I think we’re doing what Irish people do best when it comes to US politics, which is to project madly our own values on a system that works very differently to ours.

    Both parties are broad coalitions. What Shane’s arguing is that the Democrat coalition is much more realistically aligned to where modern America is right now. The fact that Bush relied on a big chunk of the very voters Trump has decided to take against is evidence enough that limits are very flexible.

    It’s a big gamble on his part, not that he’s a stranger to gambling. The GOP hasn’t been slow to recognise it has a problem, but it has been slow to figure a way out it. They will need to restructure it’s offering and its rhetroric.

    Having the most unpopular Democrat President in the history of the Republic could be their best opportunity to do that, if they can resist the urge to press home advantage too soon or too opportunistically. Populism that fails to deliver makes you unpopular over the long term.

  • Obelisk

    I agree, both parties do do that. However, I would argue that the Republican party is more egregious in it’s use of the tactic to the point of developing computer software that allowed them to gerrymander on an almost street by street basis. They have paid the price for it as well, enabling the election of a group of right wing zealots who have been able to hold the party and government hostage.

    As for projecting our own Irish values, I disagree. I believe there are better ways for democracies to function, to be designed, than the congressional model in the United States. At it’s core should be the fundamental principle of the equality of all voters, that my vote is not greater than your vote. That is something that should be fundamental to a democratic system. Yes, some electoral districts are going to be vastly more competitive than others and could very well be where elections are decided. It’s like that in every system, such as the UKs (with the terrible first past the post system but that is another debate). Yet those districts should emerge through a system that is decided impartially, without political input nor shaped for partisan advantage.

    Yet the American system, through the electoral college and a senatorial system that gives tiny Wyoming as much clout as California or Texas, disproportionately empowers some voters over others. I believe that to be an unforgivable flaw.

    I also agree that the Democratic coalition is much more representative of where America is. My point is that what remains of the GOP coalition has had it’s power magnified and numbers enhanced through their horrendously flawed political system.

    In a more equitable, more modern Democratic system the GOP would be a non viable entity. And that would have forced it out of it’s comfort zone, to engage with voters who aren’t old or white or rural in an attempt to build a genuine electoral majority. Instead they resort to voter suppression of those whose vote they evidently don’t care for and they do everything they can to maintain the political dominance of their core voting bloc by behind the scenes manipulations.

    Finally, I don’t think we can speak to Hillary Clinton being the most unpopular Democrat President just yet. Candidate Clinton is historically unpopular, but I believe it has been noted that Clinton is a different person when she has a role to work with rather than just campaigning. Secretary of State Clinton was very highly regarded after all. There is a chance that while candidate Clinton was unpopular, President Clinton may have a higher standing. Particularly if she demonstrates that she is competent in the role, and possibly in how she handles herself when the inevitable Republican witch-hunt against her begins.

  • chrisjones2

    Will she close down the Clinton Foundation and stop doing favours for Donors on Day 1?

    There is an entire phalanx of Hillary associates who depend on that for a living. Thats the real reason the emails worry her and the Party

  • chrisjones2

    I think that is the issue …who bothers to vote.

    Trump supporters are angry and energised.

    Hilary supporters want to support what she (alleges she) stands for but they dont trust the execution. Its like buying a knock off pair of Louboutins at a market stall – they look attractive but you know they are hookey. It seems that many of them may not vote – they wont vote against but they will not turn out. They wont buy the shoes but will walk on by.

    On balance I think the popular vote will go to Trump – but Hilary may win the electoral college. At that point the gloves will really come off and the GOP will drive to impeach her. I would honestly fear for her health and her safety as the politics is now so fractured anything might happen and i just dont think she is well enough or young enough to cope

  • Shane Greer

    Again, I think you might find value in re-reading. There was zero reliance on ‘better angels’, I simply laid out the battle lines within the party. I don’t dispute that those better angels face an uphill battle.

    Separately, I’m not sure where the Comber/Neshoba reference was going, but I don’t claim any familiarity with the latter, and with the former my familiarity is limited to my experience of the place as a child. So not sure I can provide any insight on that front.

  • Shane Greer

    With respect, the nomination of Trump has very little to do with the RNC this year. Although the RNC could certainly have taken steps after 2012 to address the structural and philosophical issues in the party that ultimately lead to Trump’s nomination. The bigger factors at play are: 1) the structure of the primary system; those states that look least like America overall are at the very beginning and therefore have an outsize role in the prospects of candidates early on (e.g. New Hampshire & Iowa are >90% white) & 2) the failure of the party to learn the lessons of 2012 and broaden the base of the party to bring more voters of color and minority voters into the Republican fold.

  • Rory of the Hills

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/31/hillary-clinton-and-the-populist-revolt

    Great article (long), but great read. Basically discusses white working class left (or was left) by their traditional party the Democrats, then were exploited and taken for granted by the Republicans, and were ripe for a crass demagogue. Also does as good a job as any in explaining how elites in both parties and the media (and the educated portion of the country) could be blinded and stunned by the Trump phenomena.

  • notimetoshine

    Well exactly, the RNC dropped the ball in the election prep, granted not a lot they can do if an insurgent force is pushing the party another direction but, they let it happen.

    As for the primaries, what’s new? I can think of no place less representative of the U.S. than NH. But it isn’t a system that’s going to change any time soon, and certainly the Republicans have worked within it before and can continue to do so again.

    The ultimate failure to court the minority vote (much of which is quite socially conservative) is a failure of strategy and quite possibly a result of inherent racial tensions within the Republican Party. But the fact still remains against someone as toxic as Hillary this vote should have energised the base like no other.

  • Thought Criminal

    More pathetic smug self-loathing drivel stating that the opinions of whitey should just not matter and they must accept being an underclass in their own homelands.

  • Shane Greer

    Wow. You’ve managed to completely miss the point. Good work.

  • Zorin001

    Ignore him, he has his own personal axe to grind.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Why don’t you just highlight where the article is incorrect.
    The general thrust of the article is that political parties must accommodate demographic changes, a point ‘unionist’ parties would do well to consider.

  • Abucs

    I understand your point. I think the Democrats have not won the ‘white vote’ since 1964. In a lot of cases in the West now the left side of politics heavily relies on immigrant communities to get elected. Gradually a larger and larger slice of the white vote are heading towards the right side of politics leaving a greater and greater share of the left reliant on immigrant votes.

    We have seen some of this in Britain also with UKIP taking a slice of the white working class and an even bigger slice of white labour supporters (especially in the north of England) recently voting for Brexit. Who knows where they might end up politically but they certainly have issues with Labour;s view of Britain.

    It will not be a healthy state of democracy if this continues so that the right/left divide ends up as ‘native’/immigrant divide in many western countries.

    In the US, hopefully when a sizeable portion of the Latinos become self reliant then they will head for the GOP in significant numbers. If they stay poor and are constantly augmented by new immigration then they’ll continue to vote for free stuff until the debt reality takes that mirage away. I read today that the debt in the US now stands on average at $167,000 for every taxpayer.

  • lizmcneill

    The white homeland is North America? Really?

  • lizmcneill

    If you were a Hispanic American, a black American, a woman America, a gay American (Pence supports conversion therapy), you wouldn’t want Trump’s idea of a great America.

  • anon

    The authors of the Constitution expected it to be updated and improved with each new generation, not worshipped.

  • anon

    That’s not what the Donald means. It’s just what he wants you to think he means.

  • anon

    The Republican Party’s best hope is that they put forward someone who will reach out to minorities in the way George Dubya Bush did, combined with a broad popular appeal to the masses. I think The Rock is a future Republican candidate, and I sh*t you not. Give it 8-12 years.

  • Thought Criminal

    LOL 🐸

    A better question should be to ask is why so many whites are still under
    cultural Marxist mind control and still voting for globalist anti-white minoritisation policies pushed by the likes of Clinton in the coastal blue states, and what can be done to deprogram them and to stop them voting for Democrat-party degeneracy and against their own interests in the future.

  • Thought Criminal

    Have I? wahahahahahhhahhaahaaahaha

  • Thought Criminal

    Demographic decline not inevitable and can be shaped by policy and culture. Libtard mindset = inevitable decline.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    What does that even mean ?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    The demographic decline has already happened, people born into nominally Catholic and/or nationalist backgrounds are the majority amongst the young, once the older Protestant generation pass on then the balance has shifted.

    Ergo, having people of this demographic vote pro-union (or not at all) is of the utmost necessity for NI’s survival.

    That is that.

    There is no other way around it.

    If understanding that makes me a ‘libtard’ (whatever that means in this context) then I’d gladly embrace that title any day rather than be a ‘maths-tard’ like those who live in blinkered denial of the above scenario.

    Now, if you could explain why I’m wrong then I’d be most obliged.